Inyo National Forest: Meysan Lake
Hike: Meysan Lake
Where: Inyo National Forest
Trailhead: Whitney Portal
Duration: 7 hours
Length: 11.2 miles out and back
Gear: [sn] Super.Natural W Base Tee 140, REI Sahara pants, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Hybrid jacket, CamelBak Aventura, Black Diamond Ultra Distance trekking poles, Arc’teryx Covert Hoody, and Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX boots
Cost of Parking: Free
Fresh from sea level and running on about 6.5 hours of sleep, the beastly David Wherry and I set off with a friend on a Friday morning to acclimatize for our Whitney hike back in September. Our destination was Meysan Lake at approximately 11,500′. The trail begins at the Whitney Portal Family Campground by the summer homes, a short walk across Lone Pine Creek from our campsite. Starting elevation is 8360′, so if you’re not used to the altitude, expect to be huffing and puffing.
The trail ascends along Meysan Creek and past (a nonexistent in September 2014) Little Meysan Lake. The first lake we saw was Grass Lake. Water level was low with little flow. We didn’t spend much time here. From there, we continued up to Camp Lake and its picturesque meadow. The trail beyond Camp Lake is difficult to follow, so just go up. Small cairns mark little sections here and there, but they are difficult to spot amongst all the other rocks. It seems like the trail never stops ascending, but once you reach 11,700′, it dips down into Meysan Lake.
We ended up spending about an hour here hanging out, taking in the sights, snacking and taking naps to let our bodies adjust to the elevation. It was incredibly picturesque and breathtaking, surrounded by Mt. Mallory, Lone Pine Peak and Mount Irvine. I even saw my first real rockfall off the walls one of the surrounding peaks. The mountains are unreal.
The weather was sunny with some rolling clouds in the sky, but despite this, it was fairly crisp and windy at Meysan Lake, so make sure you pack and layer appropriately.
The trail is 11.2 miles out and back with about 3600′ of elevation gain and loss, approximately the equivalent of half the Whitney Main Trail. No permits are necessary to day hike in the John Muir Wilderness, but if you’re planning on spending any nights here, you’ll need a wilderness permit.